Archive for the ‘interview’ Category



“Mountains in my heart…sand in my shoes.”

“As a Cherokee descendant and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, it’s probably not surprising that some of my stories focus on that part of my heritage.”


rem:  Hello, Tommie, welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

TOMMIE:  I was born and (mostly) raised in Dalton, Georgia. I live in the Florida panhandle now, in Milton, near Pensacola.

rem:  Oh my goodness!!! Irma came awfully close to you! Tell us three things about yourself.

TOMMIE:  First of all, I’m a retired grey-haired great-granny. Secondly, I was a PK (preacher’s kid) and that has influenced my life in ways that I’m very thankful for. Thirdly, my husband was a career Navy man, and our travels gave me lots of varied experiences, plus, we met people who have become lifelong friends.


rem:  I’m a granny and there’s nothing like it!! ❤ Tell us about your Cherokee heritage.

TOMMIE:  I have Cherokee ancestors on both sides of my lineage, but it is my daddy’s lineage that is documented. His ancestors are listed on various Cherokee rolls. The roll that’s important is the Dawes Roll. His great-grandmother is listed on that roll, which allowed me to apply for citizenship in the Cherokee Nation. I and my sons are all citizens of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma.

My gr gr gr grandparents on my daddy’s side were marched off to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, along with their two toddler sons. They later sneaked back to the mountains, but the rest of their family stayed in Oklahoma. A cousin I met online has the letters they wrote back and forth from Tennessee to Oklahoma.

On my mother’s side, a Cherokee ancestor hid in a cave and was left behind during the Removal. A white family took pity on her and supplied her with food, etc. She later married Asa Thomason, my mother’s gr grandfather. I used this incident in my latest novel. An eight-year-old Cherokee boy was left behind when soldiers rounded up his family and marched them off to the stockade to be held there until the march to Oklahoma.

Alan survives because of his own tenacity and because people took pity on him.


rem:  Oh, how awesome that you were able to gain your Cherokee citizenship. Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

TOMMIE:  Coffee. And I like it black, no sugar, unless it’s iced coffee. I like my iced coffee with cream and DaVinci Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup.

rem:  I drink mine black too, even when I drink it cold but that sounds divine. What do you do as a hobby?

TOMMIE:  I write. Before I began writing (after I retired) I loved sewing, knitting, crocheting, macramé, tatting, gardening, orchid-growing…I had a wide range of hobbies. These days, I have one: writing.

rem:  I hear ya! It is all comsuming! What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

TOMMIE:  Movie? “Overboard.” Television show? “Monk.”

rem:  I love both of those! Your movie snack of choice?

TOMMIE:  Popcorn

rem:  Slathered with lots of melted butter of course! 😉 What’s your favorite recent discovery?

TOMMIE:  Caldo Verde….Portuguese collard soup J

rem:  Are you named after someone?

TOMMIE:  Yes, I’m named Tommie after my daddy and his daddy.

rem:  It suits you… or perhaps, you suit the name. Do you use sarcasm?

TOMMIE:  Unfortunately, yes.

rem:  So do I, and proudly! Would you bungee ?


rem:  Moving on… What is the first thing you notice about people?

TOMMIE:  Whether or not they are friendly.

rem:  Yeah, that is important. Favorite season? Why?

TOMMIE:  Fall, because the tourists have gone home, it’s still warm, but the Gulf waters are clearer.

rem:  For where you live, that makes sense. Hugs or kisses?


rem:  Meeee toooo…..  Rolling stones or Beatles?

TOMMIE:  Neither

rem:  LOL Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

TOMMIE:  Yes, Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” It’s the first verse I memorized as a child in Sunday School, so it was always my favorite. Psalm 51:10 is also a favorite — “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

rem:  Oh, I love both of those. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

TOMMIE:  My hubby, because, even after almost 55 years of marriage, he’s still my best friend.


rem:  Tommie, that is so precious. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

TOMMIE:  There are a few Christian writers whose work I enjoy, but I don’t often read Christian fiction because so much of it is 1) romance, and 2) unrealistic.

I don’t know that being a novelist has impacted my life as a Christian. It would be more accurate to say my being a Christian has impacted my writing.

rem:  As it should be—our life in Christ should filter into every aspect of our lives. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

TOMMIE:  Unrealistic actions or responses by a character which I can tell were written to further the plot kick me out of a story. And my fiction pet peeve is when an otherwise good story gets ruined by the insertion of ugly language.

rem:  Yeah, makes the story unbelievable. Which is more important: plot or characters?

TOMMIE:  Characters are more important, because the plot grows out of who the characters are and how they react to life’s circumstances.

rem:  Never thought of it that way. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

TOMMIE:  Probably I’d be doing needlework or crafts or gardening.

rem:  I never did needlework, but I do enjoy crafts and gardening. What are you reading right now?

TOMMIE:  The Shark

rem:  Oooh, sounds interesting. What do you munch on while you write?

TOMMIE:  I don’t eat while I write, because I have to keep my hands on the keyboard J. If I want a snack, I take a break. As to what that snack would be, there’s just no telling…could be leftovers from supper. Could be popcorn. Could be crackers and cheese.


rem:  For some reason I’m craving popcorn… Tell us a little about your writing journey.

TOMMIE:  I always did well writing essays in high school and college, so I wrongly assumed I could write fiction. I tried writing a short story when I was in my early 20s, and it was pitiful, just pitiful. I tried again to write fiction when I was in my 30s. I wanted to write a fictionalized account of my grandmother’s coming of age story. It was pitiful, too. I decided at that point that writing fiction required a talent I didn’t possess. But I became friends with someone who told me of the experience of his Scottish ancestor who was a slave on a plantation near Savannah, Georgia. Say what?? No. No way was a white person ever a slave. He assured me that it happened. So I began doing research and discovered that he was telling the truth. There were Scottish and Irish slaves. I wondered why no one knew this unless, like me, they bothered to research it. So I decided to write about it, to let people know what happened. And my efforts were pitiful, as usual. But this topic felt too important to let it go, so I decided to take a couple of classes to see if I could learn how to write fiction. Those classes made the difference, and I was off and running.

rem:  Amazing when the right story grabs ahold of you! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

TOMMIE:  I write in my office, at my desk.

rem:  What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

TOMMIE:  I don’t often struggle, but when I do, I pray for His help in dealing with whatever is causing the struggle. And usually, the struggle relates to truths I’m not ready to write.

rem:  Truly, the best way to handle any struggle, at any time. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

TOMMIE:  I really don’t have a preference. I like both parts of the process for different reasons.

rem:  I’m with you, Tommie. For me, they are integral. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

TOMMIE:  For me, writing is almost as enjoyable as reading, because I almost never know where the story is going….it’s a process of discovery, like reading. I find out where the story is going as I write it.

rem:  Ah, a fellow pantser! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

TOMMIE:  When I first published, writers had basically two avenues to publication…acceptance by a traditional publisher or paying a vanity publisher to print your book. Neither option appealed to me, so I searched out ways to publish my books myself. I even set up my own publishing company, Blackwater Books Publishing (which I later found was unnecessary). I was blessed that Smashwords and KDP and CreateSpace came along about that same time. There were almost no guidelines at that time, so I had to sort of blaze my own trail, to learn as I went along. It was simultaneously the hardest thing and the easiest.

rem:  Yeah, I remember that era. I first tried to publish 20 years ago. (it didn’t happen then) What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

TOMMIE:  First and foremost…know English grammar. A carpenter can’t build anything without proficiency in using his saw, hammer and other tools of his trade, and neither can a writer write without proficiency an ability to use the tool of his/her trade: a command of the English language. Secondly, don’t compare yourself to other writers. Each of us is different and has different things to say. Third, don’t give up when the going gets tough. Because things will get tough. As far as things not to do? Don’t say to yourself that grammar is overrated, it’s no big deal if I make a little mistake here and there. It is a big deal. Another no-no would be to compare your work to a best seller (guaranteed to discourage you). And don’t discuss your story with others until you’ve finished writing it, or you run the risk of running out of steam and having nothing more to say when you sit down to write.

rem:  I could not agree more on the grammar! I’ve read some that just made me wonder! How do you choose your characters’ names?

TOMMIE:  Sometimes they just come to me. At other times (especially for the historicals), I check sites for names that were popular during the time period I’m writing about.

rem:  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

TOMMIE:  No. I rarely know more than the next scene to be written. With the historical novels that I’ve written, I did know the backdrop, i.e., the historical events of the time in which the story is set, but the story itself? No.

rem:  Same here. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

TOMMIE:  My latest book, “On the Red Clay Hills” is the fourth in my MacLachlainn series. It is set during the mid-1800s, and is about the survival of Alan McLachlan, a little Cherokee boy who was left behind when soldiers took his family members who were working in their cornfield and marched them off to a stockade to be held for the march to Oklahoma. The family members couldn’t speak English and the soldiers couldn’t speak Cherokee, so the family couldn’t make the soldiers understand there was a little boy who wasn’t present with them.

rem:  Oh, the poor boy! ;-(  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book?

TOMMIE:  I love the scenes between Alan and Pharaoh, a slave on Belle Montagne who rescued Alan and raised him in his home.

rem:  Tell us about why you wrote this book.

TOMMIE:  When I wrote, “High on a Mountain,” the first book in this series, I had no idea of ever writing anything else. I had only wanted to tell that story. But one morning when I was sitting in a hospital waiting room while my husband had a heart cath, three additional titles came to me instantly…” Deep in the Valley,” “Across the Wide River,” and “On the Red Clay Hills.” I had no idea what each story would be, I just knew I had to write them. And since I’d written the first two sequels, it was time to write the last one.

rem:  Oh, I love that! Please give us the first page of the book.




North of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Early Summer 1839


Michel McLachlan crouched behind the outcropping of rock and listened until the sound of horses faded. He could have watched the group of riders, could have peered through the crevice between the boulder and the rocky face of the hillside, concealed from view by the thick greenery of summer foliage. But if any of those horses had been one of his own that the soldiers had stolen when the Tsalagi were rounded up for the long march to the west, he might have not have been able to contain his rage.

He knelt, brought his hands to cover his face and prayed Creator would forgive the anger in his heart, would help him endure the injustice with patience.

To the soldiers, his horses had represented money. They didn’t know or care that he had loved his animals and they had loved him.

As he prayed, the anger faded. But the ache that was ever present grew and filled his spirit. The heartache was most of all for his Nancy, who lay beside the big river in a cold, shallow grave. But he also hurt for his two youngest children, a son and a daughter, who lay in graves far from one another. He could do nothing about that. Just as he could do nothing about the injustice. He must harden himself to the pain, must keep always before him the memory of his two sons who still lived—Alan, who was lost, separated from his loved ones, and Kenneth, who was his companion on this trek to find Alan. Michel’s other family members, his father and his brother Niall, had crossed the big river, and he prayed they were safe on the other side.

As he said a silent ‘amen,’ his stomach rumbled, and he wished he had something to quiet it, even though he was certain the sound wouldn’t carry far enough to betray his presence to the men who’d passed. He hoped Kenneth had heard the horses in time to take cover.

He bowed his head again and prayed for Creator to watch over his two sons, to keep them both safe.

He wiped trickling sweat before it reached his eyes and brushed at the gnats that buzzed about his head while he strained to hear some small sound announcing Kenneth’s approach. Time dragged as the sun lowered toward the horizon, shooting golden rays through gaps in the branches. Kenneth should have reached him by now.

And, with no warning, there he was, his dirt-streaked face solemn. Thinner than it used to be, as was his body. Michel was thankful the boy’s clothing hid the sharp angles of his gaunt frame.

“We will eat tonight,” Kenneth whispered, breaking into a grin as he held up a worn leather bag. “Look.” He pulled out a cloth-wrapped bundle and laid it on the ground. “And there’s more.”

“Where did you get that?”

Kenneth’s gaze dropped from his father’s piercing stare as the smile fell away from his lips. He didn’t answer as he unfolded the cloth and revealed a couple of chunks of hardtack that were discolored with soaked-in grease from the slabs of cold, cooked meat they were packaged with. He licked his lips.

“You stole it.”

“The soldiers have more. They won’t miss this one bag.” Kenneth’s eyes flashed a challenge as his gaze met his father’s. “If we don’t eat soon—” He broke off and grunted. “We’ll never make it back to Ayadoliama. Besides, we’ve only made it this far by taking food from farms along the way.”

“But it’s different collecting eggs from under a hen or gathering food that grew up out of the ground. Things Creator provided. This meat…you took it from someone. And you took his pouch.” Michel laid defeated hands on his knees. “If we desert Creator and forsake His ways, we might as well not make the effort to reach our home.”

“You’d leave Alan there? Alone? Among those…those…” Kenneth’s face twisted into a sneer that expressed the thoughts he couldn’t voice–disdain and hatred of the interlopers who’d stolen Cherokee lands and homes clearly displayed on his face.

“You know I would never desert him. Just as I would never leave you, uwetsi.”

“Then eat.” Kenneth held out a piece of meat. “Creator provided this food because we are hungry and we need it. Do you think I could have taken it if He hadn’t helped me?”

No further argument came to Michel’s lips. His shoulders sagged as he took the morsel, bit off a chunk and chewed. Kenneth was right. How was taking this meat any different from taking food from farmers along the way?
rem:  Wow! I was right there. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

TOMMIE:  I don’t know that I would say “identify with,” but what I hope readers take away is that we are not always told the truth about what happened in the past, and the best way to get a clear idea of it is to research, read writings from that time rather than to accept pronouncements of today’s “historians.”

rem:  So true, Tommie, especially now. Where can we find you online?






rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

TOMMIE:  Thank you so much for your invitation to connect with your readers. I’ve enjoyed it.

rem:  My pleasure. Glad to have you here today.


“Only the brave dare step into her world to listen. And sometimes, the voices still whisper…”



#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Tommie Lyn, Cherokee Nation, High on a Mountain, Deep in the Valley, Across the Wide River, On the Red Clay Hills



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            “So many secrets that had been hidden for so long, and now they all seemed to be unraveling. And for whatever reason, they seemed to land at my feet.”




            “What was at stake, really? When we were girls our mysteries were made up. There were no real dead—or missing—bodies. No mysterious wealth suddenly appeared save in our imaginations. Leaves and bird feathers and pretty stones do not real wealth make.



rem:  Bonjour, Madame, bienvenue. It’s lovely to chat with you today.

MERCEDES:  blushes Bonjour, it is my honor to chat with you.

rem:  Congratulations on your new little one.

MERCEDES:  Merci. Would you like to hold her?

rem:  Would I? reaches for le bébé, Simmie gurgles and coos

MERCEDES:  smiles

rem:  Yes, now, you were born and raised on Saisons Plantation, n’est-ce pas? She’s beautiful by the way.

MERCEDES:  Merci. And oui, I have lived there my whole life.

rem:  Your friend, Simone, was missing for many years.


rem:  Why did she come to you?

MERCEDES:  I was the detective when we were girls.

rem:  Detective?

MERCEDES:  laughs I enjoy reading, most especially detective stories.

rem:  I see. And why would Simone need your, uh, services?

MERCEDES:  There were suspicious circumstances surrounding her disappearance.

rem:  I understand she lost her memory also.

MERCEDES:  She did, but not total loss. She remembers some things, others she struggles with.

rem:  And you’re helping her with that.


rem:  You are a true friend.

MERCEDES:  smiles

rem:  Madame Eléanore did not like you when she first came. Why was that?

MERCEDES:  I’ve wondered that so many times, Madame. She wasn’t so… disdainful on her visits before. pauses Before I think she hardly noticed me.

rem:  Her attitude changed though. How did that happen?

MERCEDES:  shrugs Truly, I can’t imagine what she was thinking. Her doggie, Nanette, got loose and was running toward the paddock and river.

rem:  And you rescued her, n’est-ce pas?

MERCEDES:  I grabbed her as she was running past me. Truly, it was coincidence.

rem:  But Madame softened toward you after. How was she different?

MERCEDES:  She invited me to tea, and to dinner. With the family.

rem:  Most unusual.

MERCEDES:  Indeed. Then she bought me a dress—and one for Simmie. She came and visited with me while I was a-bed, and talked with of how it is being a lady.

rem:  And how did that make you feel?

MERCEDES:  Oh, Madame—

rem:  Please call me Robin.

MERCEDES:  Très bien… Robin. It made me feel uncomfortable, the things she was saying to me. She was talking to me as a lady not a servant.

rem:  But you’ve been a servant all your life.

MERCEDES:  It’s all I’ve ever known.

rem:  And now?

MERCEDES:  And now, mon cher, I think we must tell no more, or we shall tell the whole story.

rem: Mercedes, I do believe you’re right. Madame, I thank you for chatting with me today on my blog today.

MERCEDES:  It has been mon plaisir to chat on your… blog. I thank you, mon cher Robin for inviting to me. And for all you do for me. winks



            “I’m no lady, Tante. A piece of paper does not make it so.”

            “Non, the paper, non. But notre Dieu, He does. He sees you as a lady, indeed as royalty. Did not He make the way for you to belong to Him? If notre Dieu believes you are royalty, who can say otherwise?”












#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, The Long Shadows of Summer, Seasons Series, Character Interview, Mercedes Renaldi

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            “Eléanore paraded around the house, through every room, giving the white glove test to every surface. She turned to me every three minutes and announced that this mantel or that étagère needed to be dusted and polished. No matter that Dovie dusted and polished every wood surface every Tuesday afternoon. I added each soiled item to my growing list of grievances.”


            “What are you doing to mes chiens?” Madame Eléanore was near hysteria, her own gravelly voice a keening pitch to match that of her dreadful dogs.

            I forced my own body from my bed and came to Mikal’s side.

            Madame had lifted her canine poofs and clutched them to her side. “You’ll answer to Monsieur for this.”


rem:  Bonjour, Madame, bienvenue. It’s lovely to chat with you today.

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Bonjour, it is my honor to chat with you.

rem:  You don’t live at Saisons, correct?

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Non, I am from Nimes.

rem:  You visit Saisons often though, don’t you?

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Oh oui. I am here whenever I can make the journey.

rem:  You had plans to travel earlier in the year. What made you delay your trip?

MADAME ELÉANORE:  I received the news of that tragic accident of the Titanic. My sister sent me word that she feared for me if I traveled again. I wrote her back and reminded her all the times I have sailed from France to America, and from America to France, and no harm has ever  come to me.

rem:  You have four sisters, n’es-ce pas?

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Oui. I am the eldest.

rem:  You were all born in Saisons, correct?

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Oh, non, Madame. Our home is in Nimes. We visited here many times as young girls. Only Antoinette and Marguerite found the love here and married.

rem:  When you arrived, you seemed… brusque and surly, condescending even.

MADAME ELÉANORE:  I am accustomed to things the way I like, oui. Mon cherie niece, Vivienne, she is more modern. She does not hold to the high standards, the established traditions.

rem:  But Saisons Plantation is very successful.

MADAME ELÉANORE:  purses mouth, nods Yes, well…

rem:  You were particularly hostile towards Mercedes. Why was that?

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Madame, I was not hostile. I am a lady, I am gracious to all.

rem:  But Mercedes…

MADAME ELÉANORE:  She was presumptuous and familiar, forgetting her place.

rem:  raises eyebrows

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Très bien. She was… she bore herself not as a servant. She carried herself as… as regal. She was a servant, and her behavior was not fitting for her station.

rem:  I think perhaps you mean confidence.


rem:  What changed your… feelings toward her.

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Mon chiens, my doggies. She rescued mon cher Nanette. She was… She knew how I thought of her, and yet she did not let mon cher escape. What I thought was presumption, I see now as character and integrity.

rem:  You formed quite a lovely friendship after that, n’es-ce pas?

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Oh, oui. She is a delight to me. And her little one, Nellie—how you say, I could eat her up! She is mon coeur, my heart.

rem:  I suppose we won’t tell our readers today your hand in Mercedes’ new station.

MADAME ELÉANORE:  smirks Non, Madame, we must leave that to read in the book you have made.

rem:  Madame—

MADAME ELÉANORE:  Non. You must call me Tante.

rem:  Tante, I thank you for visiting my blog today.

MADAME ELÉANORE:  It has been mon plaisir to be at your… blog. I thank you, mon cher Robin for inviting to me.










            “I’m no lady, Tante. A piece of paper does not make it so.”

            “Non, the paper, non. But notre Dieu, He does. He sees you as a lady, indeed as royalty. Did not He make the way for you to belong to Him? If notre Dieu believes you are royalty, who can say otherwise?”



#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, The Long Shadows of Summer, Seasons Series, Character Interview, Tante Eléanore-Franois Bouvier

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“Vivi had draped herself across the chaise longue, her lacy coverlet laid loosely about her. I wondered had Edna had done this before she left. I stirred and tried to sit, but found myself quite weak, my head yet swimming. I had rustled the covers, though, and the whispered sound apparently woke Vivienne for she sat up just then.”


“Vivienne was nothing but kind and gracious, and served me quite flawlessly. Grier made biscuits, especially for me, Vivi told me. There was ham and scrambled eggs and fresh peaches and cream. There was fresh churned butter and honey from the beehive for the biscuits. And glorious coffee.”


rem:  Bonjour, Madame, bienvenue. It’s lovely to chat with you today.

VIVIENNE:  Bonjour, Robin. I believe it totally fitting for you to address me by my given name. You did give it to me, after all.

rem:  You grew up on Saisons Plantation. Tell us what that was like.

VIVIENNE:  Oh my goodness. I was born the year after the war started. My first memory is Papá announcing freedom to all the Negroes. He gathered us all under the great oak tree—the one with the swing now—and told them that any who wished were free to go.

rem:  What a poignant moment.

VIVIENNE:  Oh, it was indeed.

rem:  What a tremendous thing your father did. I’m sure they were grateful for their freedom.

VIVIENNE:  smiles They were, Robin. But none of them left Saisons. They all stayed with us and were paid servants instead.

rem:  I recall how benevolent your papá was.

VIVIENNE:  He was kind to all.

rem:  You and your husband run the plantation now, correct?

VIVIENNE:  Henry has a passion for the tea and rice.

rem:  You have a special blend of tea. How did that come about?

VIVIENNE:  laughs When Eti and Gérard and I were small, we were playing at making tea, using pecans.

rem:  How inventive you were.

VIVIENNE:  We were small. We used what we could. laughs We also made pies from mud.

rem:  Who’s idea was it to use pecans?

VIVIENNE:  sighs Eti’s. She always was most inventive.

rem:  I understand you and she were close.


rem:  Can you tell me about her.

VIVIENNE:  hesitates, takes deep breath She was a ray of sunshine, a bundle of joy. No one didn’t love her.

rem:  You had the same birthday didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  smiles Yes. She arrived the day I turned three. Just months before the war ended.

rem:  She followed after you wherever you went.

VIVIENNE:  And mimicked everything I ever did.

rem:  Was that annoying to you?

VIVIENNE:  Mercy, no. I delighted in it.

rem:  pause She died a very tragic death. Can you tell us what happened?

VIVIENNE:  She was pushed. We all knew it. She was in her wheelchair, and fell from the balcony outside her rooms. She couldn’t even stand—she was yet recovering from another fall.

rem:  Also not an accident, correct?

VIVIENNE:  Suzi was so tiny but she saw… She didn’t know who it was, and couldn’t describe very well.

rem:  You knew who it was though, didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  Yes. We all knew. It was Lissette Fontaine.

rem:  Vivienne, I’m so sorry.

VIVIENNE:  Thank you. Please forgive my temper. After all this time… I forgave the woman, but it still pains me.


rem:  You raised her girls, didn’t you?

VIVIENNE:  loud sigh Yes, I did. They were a delight.

rem:  Where was their papá, Monsieur Rowan?

VIVIENNE:  closes eyes She seduced him. And then ran off—and took our dear Simone.

rem:  Dear Vivienne, you have suffered great loss.

VIVIENNE:  We all did. Violet stopped talking, Suzi became most belligerent. They both had nightmares. pauses We adjusted, though. They are now delightful young women.

rem:  A change for you, I’m sure, after raising three boys.

VIVIENNE:  laughs Most certainly different.

rem:  Vivienne, I thank you for chatting with me today. My condolences on your losses.

VIVIENNE:  I thank you, Robin. And it has been my pleasure.









The pursed expression on Eléanore’s face was most entertaining. Clearly she viewed Violet’s mute tongue as a deficiency, and her ability to communicate using her hands as some sort of sacrilege.

            Violet looked to Vivienne, who signed back to her that all was well, and to dismiss the vieille vache. The old cow.

            Vivienne smiled quite demurely, laughing most gaily with her amber eyes. Violet smiled large and satisfied.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, The Long Shadows of Summer, Seasons Series, Character Interview, Vivienne Hampton, Lissette Fontaine

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““Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.” – Ann Tatlock”


“When I was young, I grew up on a steady diet of stories. Whether it was my uncle telling us ghost stories around a campfire or the short story collections I devoured in my early teens, or the Stephen King books I later found myself engrossed in, stories have always been a huge part of my life.”



rem:  Hello, Steven, welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

STEVEN:  I’m a husband, father, author, storyteller. I love coffee and trail running and science fiction movies. I hail from the great white north where I was born in Wisconsin, but now live in and love my home in Tennessee.

rem:  Tell us three things about yourself.

STEVEN:  I love Cheetos, I write standing up, and I’ve never been to Liechtenstein.


rem:  Cheetos, check; writing standing up—what???; and Liechtenstein? I don’t even know where that is… Cookout—steaks or burgers?

STEVEN:  Burger with cheese, mayo, and ketchup. Medium rare is the only way to go.

rem:  Gimme some tomato on that bad boy! Beatles or Rolling Stones?

STEVEN:  Beatles. My elementary school music teacher was in love with the Beatles, so all the songs we sang were Beatles songs. It became part of the fabric of my childhood.

rem:  Love me some Beatles. If you could have any super power what would it be?

STEVEN:  I’d love to be able to walk through anything.

rem:  Save a lot of time not having to go around everything. Fishing or hunting?

STEVEN:  Fishing.


rem:  My grandmother LOVED fishing! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

STEVEN:  I think it’s hard to define Christian fiction, just as it would be hard to define Christian photography or Christian sculpture. I think that if fiction tells the truth about the human condition of the world, then it’s honoring to God. Writing has helped me to explore many facets of my faith, especially the ideas of forgiveness and justice.

rem:  Steven, this may be the best answer ever! (‘specially since I don’t write Christian fiction, but I write my faith into my fiction) When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

STEVEN:  Believability. As soon as something happens that I don’t buy, I tune out the story. Also related to this, when things happen without proper motivation, it annoys me and I eventually put the book down.

rem:  Rhyme and reason, right? Which is more important: plot or characters?

STEVEN:  A character with a meaningful pursuit is always the most interesting. Plot is the map that a character takes, so there will always be a journey, but a journey without a character can’t exist, and a character without a quest isn’t interesting.

rem:  Oooh, I like that—“plot is the map…” What would you do if you weren’t writing?

STEVEN:  I think I would be a family entertainer and tell stories for a living.

rem:  When the stories is there they finds a way out. What are you reading right now?

STEVEN:  The next book on my pile is the Marsh King’s Daughter.

rem:  Looks so intense—and it’s in my TBR mound also. What do you munch on while you write?

STEVEN:  Cheetos. Or Kit-Kats.


rem:  Both yummy choices but gimme the chocolate and no one gets hurt. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

STEVEN:  I started writing for magazines and then nonfiction books in the late 90s, but eventually found my wheelhouse when I began writing novels in 2006.

rem:  And never looked back! You spent time in Kazakhstan. Tell us about that experience.

STEVEN:  Over the years, I’ve had a few opportunities to teach ministers and children’s workers around the world on principles of creative teaching and storytelling. My visits to Kazakhstan have always been positive and I love the enthusiasm of the pastors and educators I’ve met there.

rem:  Gotta admit I’m a little envious, combining the two elements of storytelling / creativity with teaching and ministering! What is the strangest or most peculiar research or interview you’ve ever done for research?

STEVEN:  For my book The Pawn, I consulted with one of the three people who was still alive who had survived the Jonestown massacre in the 1970s. That’s one interview I’ll never forget.

rem:  Color me duly impressed! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

STEVEN:  Mostly, I write in my basement listening to electronica or trance music. I work from a printed page, typically stand, and do most of my best writing in the morning or late at night.

rem:  Late into the night here, every time! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

STEVEN:  There are so many obligations to being an author that have nothing to do with storytelling. For instance, marketing or social media posting. All of these end up distracting me and making it harder to focus on my work-in-progress.

rem:  Oh.my.goodness.YES! (like this interview?) Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

STEVEN:  Creating. At my heart of hearts I’m a storyteller, not an editor. I like coming up with and expressing ideas, and while editing is important, it’s definitely not my passion.

rem:  Without a good story (created) there’s not much point to editing is there? What do you mean by “Story Trumps Structure,” the title of your book on the craft of writing?

STEVEN:  Story actually trumps everything—grammar, structure, all of the rules that we’re taught about plotting or outlining. Every great story breaks at least one of them. Rather than teach people formulas that might not work, I like to teach storytelling principles that always do.

rem:  My motto is, I know the rules—and I know how to break them. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

STEVEN:  God made me to be a storyteller and I can’t imagine feeling fulfilled doing anything else.

rem:  A to da MEN! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

STEVEN:  Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with many editors, some who were excellent but many who were not. Fixing the mistakes of poor editors is the most exasperating thing for me in the world. The easiest thing about publishing is coming up with ideas for books.

rem:  So.many.ideas. So.little.time. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

STEVEN:  1) Keep everything believable. 2) Don’t fall in love with your first draft. 3) Tell stories that explore moral dilemmas. Three things I would recommend not doing: 1) Plotting out or outlining your story. 2) Joining a critique group. 3) Publishing your work before it’s ready.

rem:  Pantzer here! (don’t think anyone has ever said to NOT join a critique group before!) How do you choose your characters’ names?

STEVEN:  In a sense, I feel like while I work on the book the names reveal to me. Some names just feel right for some characters and there’s no logic or specific process that I know of behind it.

rem:  My [main] characters “introduce” themselves to me. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

STEVEN:  Absolutely not. I write completely organically. I typically don’t even know how a scene will end when I start writing it, and I’ve never started a book that I’ve known the ending for beforehand.

rem:  And it works very well for you. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

STEVEN:  Every Deadly Kiss released this summer. FBI special agent Patrick Bowers grapples with a baffling series of murders in Detroit—and discovers a terror plot with roots that stretch back centuries.

rem:  Interesting enough—and then there’s that hook, “… with roots that stretch back centuries.” What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

STEVEN:  The plot twists and turns are one of my favorite aspects of Every Deadly Kiss. If readers like suspense and enjoy a story that they can’t predict the end of, I think they’ll really dig Every Deadly Kiss.

rem:  Go ‘head, readers, go get your copy! Tell us about why you wrote this book.

STEVEN:  I was intrigued by placing a story in Detroit and one of my trips overseas helped me see the bigger picture, and the geopolitical storyline emerged.

rem:  Love how seeming random, disconnected things come together [in our brains] to form a story. Please give us the first page of the book.

STEVEN:  Here’s a link to the first chapter:




rem:  Even better! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

STEVEN:  That redemption and hope are available but they are not cheap. They always come at a cost.

rem:  Nothing worth having is cheap, maybe especially hope, and definitely redemption. Anything you’d like to add?

STEVEN:  Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. I hope that all of your readers will have a great summer full of great books.

rem:  Steven, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us at my little nest today!










“Some people outline their books and go through dozens of drafts; some people write organically and hardly have to edit the manuscript at all. Some of it is skill, artistry, intuition.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Manly Man Interview Blitz, Steven James, Every Deadly Kiss, Story Trumps Structure, Troubleshooting Your Novel, Checkmate, Opening Moves, Curse


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I like to see the story unfold, picture it in what I like to call “the movie screen of my mind.” Write it as if someone could easily transform it to the “big screen.” That’s what good novels do, right?”


“As with any good fiction, the story must be rooted in truth, fact, and details verifiable by someone. Then, with those facts developed and substantiated, the rest of the “story”-however unbelievable it may appear-will at least seem believable, even possible.”


rem:  Hullo Kevin, welcome to my blog! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

KEVIN:  I was born and raised in central Florida where I presently live. But I haven’t always lived here. We had a 13 year hiatus from living in this neck of the woods from 1983-1996. Seven and a half of those were spent in western New York where I attended college (not the whole time, mind you J). Then we lived for three years in Jackson, Mississippi, where I attended seminary. During that three years, we spent six months of it living in the Fort Worth, Texas area (Watauga, Haltom City). Then, we moved to Des Moines, Iowa and spent two years there before moving back to FLA.


rem:  That’s a bit dizzying… LOL Tell us three things about yourself.

KEVIN:  #1: I am self-taught on the drums. Can’t read a lick of drum music, but if I can listen to a song, I can pretty much figure out how it’s played and have it down rather quickly. I’ve played in a couple of church praise teams over the years. For a guy who doesn’t own his own set anymore (haven’t for about 20 years), I do okay. J I’d love to play with some group like Third Day or Downhere someday. Not forever, just a jam session. (rem: how cool is that)  #2: I had a chance to go to Taylor University in Indiana on a wrestling scholarship out of high school, but I told my coach no because I didn’t know anyone in Indiana at the time. Silly me.  #3: I’m painfully shy and a bit of a loner. If I have to be in large groups or family get togethers, I can handle it, but I am sure drained after it’s all over. I guess that’s why writing feels so comfortable to me. I could cloister myself for days, look like a beach bum, and get a great deal of writing done…and be perfectly happy. I have guard against that, though. Marriage and family are not fans all the time when you do that.


rem:  Cookout—steaks or burgers?

KEVIN:  Why do you have choose? Why not steaks AND burgers?

rem:  Your cookout, your menu, Dude. Beer in a bottle or a can

KEVIN:  Bottle. Everything’s better in bottles. Beer. Wine. Coca-Cola.

rem:  I agree! What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

KEVIN:  Favorite movie? Hopscotch with Walter Matthau (If you can get by Ned Beatty’s mouth). It’s a funny movie, and I love all the classical music in it. Better than the book by the same name, yet both the novel and the script were written by Brian Garfield. (The very first time I saw this movie, it was on TV. They cut out all the scenes with language. So imagine my surprise when I finally received the DVD as a gift and watched it for the first time!)

Favorite TV Show? Wow, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say 24 (The Jack Bauer version), although The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds are a close second, third, and fourth.

rem:  Haven’t seen the movie but will have to check it out now; and Criminal Minds¸YES!!! Beatles or Rolling Stones?

KEVIN:  Beatles, although I like much of what the Stones have produced. I love the “dig” The Beatles made about the Stones in their song, I Dig a Pony. They made fun of the Stones by saying they imitated others, which is very true.

rem:  The things I learn in these interviews! Ha! Vacation: beach or mountains?

KEVIN:  Beach. I love the mountains, too, but there are no mosquitos or black flies at the beach.

rem:  Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

KEVIN:  Romans 12:1-2. Just like Paul was attempting to do when he wrote it, it sums up what the Christian life is all about in two verses.


rem:  YESSS!! 12:2 is my signature verse! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

KEVIN:  Jesus was a storyteller. He wasn’t a theologian. He wasn’t a scholar. He wasn’t a teacher of the law, like the ones living in His day. He used story to convey truth. He used imagery to convey meaning. He always used the things of everyday life so everyone could understand (the birds of the air, the flowers of the field, plants, wheat, weeds, mustard seeds, fish, bread, oil, lamps, money, family, etc.). His stories have resonated with people for over two thousand years in the bestselling book of all time. That’s not a coincidence. When you marry story with eternal truth, life happens. rem: emphasis mine  So being a novelist, I try to do the same thing. When I write stories, there is always an overarching spiritual truth, like an umbrella, spreading over the story. Because of this, it has helped deepen the meaning of truths in scripture in my life as I wrestle with them on the page.


rem:  YES and AMEN!! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

KEVIN:  What makes a story for me? One that grips me. Makes me care about the characters. One that has a storyline I can believe in. One that has purpose. A story that I think about long after the last page is turned. One that is realistic, but stretches me. What breaks a story for me? Pretty much all the opposites. A story that doesn’t grip me. One where I don’t like or care about the characters. A story that has a storyline that seems forced or has no real purpose for existing, or characters that seem too perfect, or too trite, or too religious.


rem:  All of the above, especially too religious. Which is more important: plot or characters?

KEVIN:  Neither. Both are equally important, in my opinion. I know books have been written on this subject. Wars have almost been waged at writers’ conferences. But for me, you can have the most amazing story, with conflict galore, but if I could care less about the characters, the story suffers. On the contrary, I could have the best, lovable, likeable character ever created, but if he or she is in a boring, lifeless story, who cares? For me, as a thriller writer, plot tends to overshadow character, but I try to make sure my characters are ones people can love, hate, and empathize with, depending on the character’s arc. I try not to get lost in that argument of which is more important. To me, it’s like the chicken and egg. Which came first? Who cares? Let’s eat!

rem:  Yup, and DiAnn Mills has a lovely little book on that, The Dance of Character and Plot.  What would you do if you weren’t writing?

KEVIN:  Good question. Probably more yard work. Ugh.

rem:  That’s neverending, isn’t it? What are you reading right now?

KEVIN:  The Killing Floor by Lee Child. It’s the first Jack Reacher novel.

rem:  What do you munch on while you write?

KEVIN:  Depends on if I want to be healthy or not. Chips or fruit or candy or ice cream…


rem:  Sooo… mood driven, eh? Tell us about “In the News” feature on your website. What is the strangest discovery you have found in your research?

KEVIN:  When I conduct research for my novels, I like to give the readers a glimpse into some of that background. I post things I have found and used in my novels I think they will find interesting or challenging. The strangest “discovery” I found was when I was writing The Serpent’s Grasp, it seemed the scientific world was working for me. Article after article, new discovery after new discovery was being published in this journal or that news site. They were proving the point behind TSG every time. Still are, by the way.

rem:  Life imitating fiction! You have teamed up with World Hope International. What prompted your interest in their work and mission and how much does this topic show up in your stories?

KEVIN:  As I was writing my Blake Meyer series, I knew where it was heading (into the world of human trafficking). I felt led to pray about what I could do about this problem. Besides exposing it within the story, I found out about WHI. They have a HT arm of the organization that helps women and children (primarily), who have been victims of HT, rehabilitate and get back on their feet while sharing the message of Christ with them. I prayed about it, and decided to give a portion of what I earn as a writer to WHI. I feel like it’s so small, but it was something I could do to start. Who knows where it will lead from here. And also, each year, the monies given are matched through a government grant up to a certain amount. Even more good news.

rem:  Sometimes it’s those small actions and gifts that manifest the most. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

KEVIN:  I’ve been writing seriously since I was college. While in seminary, I had several articles published in a denominational Sunday School curriculum as well as some other articles in missions magazines, pastoral journals, and even a local newspaper. Then, in the mid-90s, I decided to try my hand at fiction. I wrote a novel called A Case of Déjà vu. It involves some characters I am now developing into a young adult series. (Eventually, I plan to work my way back up chronologically to that time period of their lives with adult fiction. I foresee many novels in this entire journey.) Then, I wrote another novel for my oldest daughter. It was strictly a labor of love and never intended for it to be published. My third novel was a young adult novel, as I tried my hand at such. All the while, I was learning the craft and never too serious about getting any of it published. In 2006, I started writing the beginning pages, by hand, of The Serpent’s Grasp. Four years later, it was done. It was published in 2012 and won the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction. I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment. (rem: as you should be!)  It has since been republished in a second edition (it’s in pre-order status as we speak!). Since 2012, I have written three more novels, all part of the Blake Meyer Thriller Series: Book 1 – 30 Days Hath Revenge, Book 2 – Triple Time, and Book 3 – The Tide of Times. The first two are available. Book 3 will be out in late August. Books 4, 5 & 6 will be out just as soon as I write them. J I also have another manuscript in the hands of a publisher right now, being considered for publication titled The Letters. It’s a Christmas novel about a woman who receives some letters in the mail in the most interesting way. The byline of this novel is: The world is a crazy place when the living are dead and the dead are alive.

rem:  What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

KEVIN:  It varies. I work full-time as an assistant principal at a middle school. That’s my day job. So when school is in session and it works out, I like to get up about 4:00 a.m. and write for a couple of hours before the day gets rolling. If I can, I also write for about half of Saturday. Then there’s holidays, summers, etc. Writing at night is not always the best for me. I’m usually too tired and create a bunch of deleted scenes when I try to write at night. J


rem:  Wait! What??? There’s a 4:00 in the A.M. too??? What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

KEVIN:  Time management. Keeping everything in perspective. It’s a daily fight. As far as how I handle it? One day at a time. Some days, I win. Some days, not so much.

rem:  No.kidding! and yeah, best way to tackle it (or be tackled… ) Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

KEVIN:  Creating. Editing is a bear, but it’s worth it, because what you put on the page the first go around (and second and third…) usually says something, but sometimes it’s not what you meant it to say.

rem:  What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

KEVIN:  The creative aspect. Developing stories readers marvel at is fun. I’ve been told by people they are glad I’m on their side. I’d make a scary terrorist, I guess.

rem:  I have a CSI-worthy story that scared a coworker once! I told her I write this stuff, I don’t do it!  What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

KEVIN:  The hardest thing about being published for me was being good enough to get published. As I stated earlier, The Serpent’s Grasp was my 4th novel. And there had been a great deal of non-fiction writing before that. A close second is building a readership. What’s the easiest? I’m not sure there is anything easy about this business.


rem:  True, but it’s still so fun!  Love me my networking!! (and yes, my interviews are work! but I wouldn’t trade them for nuthin!) What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

KEVIN:  1. Keep writing with an eye on improving and never think you have arrived. (ouch) 2. Read good writers in your genre and learn from them as well as books on the craft. 3. Attend a writers’ conference. What you learn and who you meet will be invaluable.


  1. Don’t give up when you get a rejection. It won’t be your first or your last. The only people who don’t get them anymore are people who gave up on writing. 2. Don’t get all caught up in making huge plans “once you get your first book published.” Thinking big is okay, so long as it is tempered with a huge dose of reality. 3. Don’t compare yourself to other authors. It’s never a fair fight because God called you to write something. He also called the other author to write something else. You’re comparing apples and oranges when you fall prey to this.


rem:  That’s some good stuff there, Kev! #RevKev How do you choose your characters’ names?

KEVIN:  I try to make the name fit the character. I know who the character is going to be, so finding the proper name is important. Also, sometimes, it’s about cadence. Blake Meyer was designed to be like most of the other thriller, espionage, murder mystery names out there. Most of the popular ones have one or two syllables in the first and last name, but no more. James Bond. Jack Reacher. Jack Bauer. John Ryan. Sherlock Holmes. Not too many famous FBI or MI-6 agents out there called Englebert Kadiddlehopper. In young adult fiction maybe, but not adult fiction.


However, I do have a little Thomas Kincaid in me. Like he did with the letter of his wife’s first name appearing in all his paintings, I have used my family member’s names in various ways for character who have bit parts. For example, in The Serpent’s Grasp, there are two characters with the last names Wiggins and Higgins, the married last names of my middle and oldest daughter, respectively. I also have used my grandchildren’s names. In the Blake Meyer series, there is a Wichita County Deputy Sheriff whose last name is Landon, a Texas Highway Patrol Sergeant named Colton Lee, a Coast Guard commander named Addisyn Rylee, and a paramedic named Evyn. In upcoming books, I have a Brantley James planned. These are little things that are cool, in my opinion.

rem:  So cool! I’ve done this too, in different ways—and use my own name, robin, in some form or spelling variation. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

KEVIN:  I know where I want to start, and I know how the story ends. I also know several high points in the middle. For me, though, the fun part is the writing journey from point A to point B.

rem:  Sounds rather Pantser-y to me…. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

KEVIN:  Well, that’s a tough one because I have two books coming out a month apart. The Tide of Times is Book 3 is a series that will have six books when completed (Blake Meyer series…think 24 with a Christian twist). The Serpent’s Grasp is Jurassic Park in the ocean. If you’d like more details, I’ll just say, head over to my website at www.ckevinthompson.com, and have a look!

rem:  Yes! Always more details! You hear the man, peeps, head over to the website already! (just don’t forget to come back… ) Tell us about why you wrote this book.

KEVIN:  I wrote The Serpent’s Grasp to delve into the topic of Truth from a scientific viewpoint. It seems many in the scientific community no longer wish for truth to be known unless it jives with their beliefs (namely, evolutionary theory). I knew this book would be polarizing, and the reviews have borne that out. But when you are attacking the gates of hell with the truth of scripture, battles abound!


rem:  Truth tends to do that, though, doesn’t it—polarize, or maybe crystalize, those very differences. Please give us the first page of the book.

KEVIN:  (I gave you the first two, but unfortunately, the serpent shows up on page 3…)


Wednesday, 1:57 a.m.

Atlantic Ocean

Approximately 11 Nautical Miles East/Northeast of Fort Pierce, Florida


Tethered to the ocean floor for hours, an eighty-five-foot schooner floated in rhythm with the gentle swells of the Atlantic. The masts, standing vigil in the shadows of the night sky with their sails battened tight, rocked back and forth as solitary sentinels. Under a veil of thin cirrus clouds, the moon beamed a brilliant but dispersed glow upon the vessel whose white underbelly glistened against the backdrop of the watery depths.

A soft breeze, mixing with the smell of salt and sea life, wafted across the deck, carrying the mounting sounds of a quarrel that emanated from the quarters below.

“I don’t care about all that. But obviously you do,” the woman said, putting on her clothes.

The man flopped over onto his back and sighed. “Why does that bother you?”

“It’s becoming clear that our relationship is important when we can have our little trysts, but when it comes to disrupting your cash flow, then whoa, wait a minute. You’ve suddenly got to think it through.”

“That’s not fair, Regina, and you know it. If I divorce Evelyn, she’ll want half. Do you know what that means?”

Regina crossed her arms and shrugged.

“I’d have to sell the business. That’s what it means. All that I’ve worked for would be gone. I’d be left with our rental in Fort Lauderdale, this boat if I’m lucky, and a whopping alimony payment.”

Regina closed her eyes and dropped her chin to her chest. “So our relationship is based on your financial future? Wonderful.”

David Sims sat up on the edge of the bed and snatched his polo shirt off the floor. “Look, this is not what I had in mind.” He thrust his arms through the sleeves. “If we’re gonna fight, I might as well go home.”

“I’ve got to know this is going somewhere.” She lifted her gaze and watched him get dressed. “If you’re not willing to leave your wife, then all I am is a plaything, and I can’t live like that.”

David sat for several awkward moments before speaking. “What about your husband? Is it that cut and dry for you? Don’t you feel a little remorse when we’re together?”

“Sure, I do.” Regina unfolded her arms and slipped her hands into the pockets of her shorts. “You know, you’re not the only one destined to lose something in this.”

“But you’re the woman. You should get a healthy chunk of your husband’s money.” David chuckled. “Maybe that would help make our lives easier after the dust settles.”

“Well, I hate to paint a bleak picture for you, Dave, but I won’t.”

“You won’t what?”

“Get anything from my husband.”

“You didn’t.”


rem:  That packs a bunch in them thar words! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

KEVIN:  Good writing that gets you thinking, i.e., “smart fiction.”


rem:  Where can we find you online? (provide links)









rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

KEVIN:  I am also a regular contributor for Seriously Write: http://seriouslywrite.blogspot.it/


Also, Reader Poll: Should I start a Pinterest Page? Yes or No? I’ll let the readers decide! 

rem:  Ooohhh, fun, Reader Poll!!  Aite, ya’ll, there it is! Whatcha’ll think? Pinterest for #RevKev, yes or no? Kevin, thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!



I’ll go first n I say GO FOR IT! And share your Pinterest link in comments below!


“He believes the Bible is not the best-selling book of all time for nothing. It’s about storytelling, and it’s about truth. And when you couple those two things together, it makes for powerful reading. (Of course, divine inspiration puts the Bible in a class by itself!) There’s nothing like a good story that brings home something concrete which a reader can take with them long after the last page is turned.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Manly Man Interview Blitz, C. Kevin Thompson, The Serpent’s Grasp, 30 Days Hath Revenge, Blake Meyer Thriller, Triple Time, World Hope International




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“God always has a plan, and nothing has ever taken Him by surprise. Every moment of suffering we experience is to benefit others—even to the point of salvation.”


“Christian living is easy in this country—so easy that if we’re not careful we become complacent. And when we ask ourselves if that’s okay with God, undoubtedly we would say no.”



rem:  Hello, Don, welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

DON: I was born and raised in New Jersey, but moved away when I married my wife at age 21. Although I’ve lived in a number of states, I have lived in Alabama since 1993.

rem:  I moved around a bunch too, but have been in the upstate of South Carolina for almost 30 years now. Tell us three things about yourself.

DON:  I’m a doctor, the Medical Director of Alabama. I travel to Africa frequently to provide medical aid in the bush as well as the desert working with Syrian and Sudanese refugees. I love to fly and used quite a bit of my personal experiences in the book, The Ghost of Africa.


rem:  I love how Father puts two things—your medical expertise and passion for refugees—and uses it to reach out to the world. Cookout—steaks or burgers?

DON:  Steaks for sure, preferably cooked on a Green Egg grill, and maybe with a few ears of grilled corn beside it.

rem:  Perfect! If you could have any super power what would it be?

DON:  Flying, for sure. Without the aid of an airplane. I often dream of flying, and it would be amazing to soar on wings like eagles.

rem:  Definitely flying! I’ve loved flying for as long as I can remember—either because my dad was in the Air Force or because my name is robin, although I think I was born loving to fly. Vacation: beach or mountains?

DON:  Beach as often as I can go. I do like the mountains, especially if skiing is involved, but the beach is a must have several times a year.

rem:  And Alabama is an ocean state…  Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

DON:  Psalm 51:10. David, described as a man after God’s own heart, asks God to create in him a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within him. If David had to ask this of God, how much more should I ask every day? I need a clean heart and a right spirit if I am to do God’s will in my life. It’s comforting to know that I can ask for that, and He can help me.


rem:  David is such person—the Psalms are full of how real he was, no pretense, no putting on airs, just humble before Father. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

DON:  My writing of fiction came on the heels of writing a memoir about my wife’s spiritual journey (and mine) after she discovered she had cancer. (rem: I am so sorry for your loss, Don.) No one has ever been more encouraging about me writing fiction. Christian fiction is often a challenge in that I need my readers to see the journey of a fictional character. If there is no change, no romance, no transformation in my main characters, it’s not true to life. Everything changes us, and if we don’t go to God for our needs, the changes we undergo will be for the worse, not the better.

In my own walk with Christ I’m challenged every time I put my protagonist through a trial he or she can’t possibly endure. My most heart-wrenching scenes are written when I can draw from those painful experiences in my own life.

rem:  So true! I look at some of what I’ve gone through and know that without Him by my side (or me in His hand) I would never have survived. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

DON:  It has to be believable. That is also one of my greatest challenges. But when a plot is moving forward and something coincidental slips in and saves the day, or a character suddenly becomes capable of a power that had never been mentioned, I tend to stop reading. Readers are smart. (rem: so true) If I create a scene where my doctor character needs to land a plane in a field in Sudan, I don’t want other pilots or persons in the know to say, “There is no way that could ever happen.” For that reason, for the opening scene in The Ghost of Africa, I flew the exact plane in the book to the area in question and landed it there. It was a knuckle-whitening experience, but I can stand behind that scene in the book.

rem:  That’s awesome, to live (or pre-live) the story you’re writing. Which is more important: plot or characters?

DON:  Plot is what shows us what the characters are going through, but I don’t like the terms plot-driven or character-driven. I believe that, as Steven James book states, “Story Trumps Structure.” Your story has to be real—that is, believable and important. But if the characters are all strong, or all weak, or all the same, you won’t get much out of your book anyway.

rem:  Or as DiAnn Mills calls it, The Dance of Character and Plot. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

DON:  I would be working in Africa more than I already do. But my writing helps to make my work in Africa possible.

rem:  The, uh, dance of writing and mission… What are you reading right now?

DON:  My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni. Robert is a friend and mentor. He helped me with The Ghost of Africa, and he is helping me with my work in progress. Robert is a gifted author, and My Sister’s Grave has sold over a million copies. If you like mystery, adventure, thrillers, you must read his work, and start with that one.

rem:  I’ll add it to my TBR behemoth. What do you munch on while you write?

DON:  Jelly Bellies. Didn’t even have to give that any thought. If I’m out of them, life (and writing) become very difficult.


rem:  LOL I see large stockpiles of Jelly Bellies! You have a ministry and mission in Africa. Tell us about that. How did that get started?

DON:  After my wife passed away in 2008, I embarked on what we had talked about doing for many years—working in Africa to help the poor and needy. That has blossomed to where I make between four and six trips a year to several different African countries that need medical help desperately. We are not allowed in some of those areas, but we go because they need us.

rem:  And that is the call of God, to go where we’re needed. You are also involved in rescuing victims of human trafficking. Is that connected to your work in Africa?

DON:  My passion regarding helping victims of human trafficking actually began nearly thirty years ago when I worked with agencies in Chicago to recover and extract those who had been taken, and stopping organizations responsible for exploiting those young people. This will be brought out in the next book, and much of it has always been shrouded in secrecy, and for obvious reasons, it must remain that way.

rem:  Don, that’s admirable and astounding. That’s such a dark and depraved industry, so many deceived, and such horror to young girls. I thank you for your part it that. What is the greatest adventure or challenge you’ve encountered on visits to Africa?

DON:  The greatest challenges are those involving men . . . evil men. In my book, the LRA, or Lord’s Resistance Army is a very real entity that kills, rapes, and destroys the people of Sudan, Uganda, and the Congo. In other areas we now must also deal with ISIS. The challenges are to do the work we’ve been sent there to do, but not be discovered.

rem:  And this is not fiction. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

DON:  I began writing on the website caringbridge.org when my wife was ill with cancer. It developed into a daily writing habit through which I expressed my love for the woman I loved. That developed into the writing of Thirteen Months, a non-fiction book about my wife’s journey through cancer. I promised her I would do it, and have never regretted it. I continue to hear from individuals who have been deeply touched by her story and faith.

A literary agent, Jessica Kirkland of Kirkland Media Management contacted me after reading that book, and I signed on with her immediately. She has succeeded in supporting me and propelling me through the industry.

I then decided to write fiction, which my wife had always wanted me to do. It has been successful, and I enjoy it very much.

rem:  Bittersweet success. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

DON: I wrote Thirteen Months in an apartment in New York City, but I no longer have that apartment. Although many authors I know, write in coffee shops or Panera, I write my best in the quiet of my study. I love having several days during which I can write from morning till night, since I can allow myself to be fully engulfed in my work. And I do just that.

rem:  Ya, I can’t work with ANY noise around me other than life—no music, no TV, and definitely no Panera or Starbucks chatter! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

DON:  When I’m writing a scene about something that has actually happened, but when written that way sounds unbelievable, I struggle with keeping the truth in it while making it fiction. Frank Peretti once told me that when I write fiction, I needed to be certain I was writing it as fiction, and not brown paper wrapping a true story under a fiction heading. It took me a while to truly understand that, but it was great advice.

rem:  Interesting way to put it—I love that! Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

DON:  I prefer the creating aspect. I’m a dynamic writer as opposed to a static writer. I do not use outlines, but write what comes to me onto the page. Sometimes my characters do something wrong that gets them into trouble, or make decisions that don’t play out well. When that happens it’s often a total surprise to me. Writing in that manner is much more fun to me.

rem:  Ah yes, the ever devious characters. I know them well… What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

DON:  I very much enjoy watching readers become interested in a character, and become so tied to him/her that they can’t stop turning pages. If the characters are real, and the reader feels invested in their lives and is concerned about them, I’ve succeeded.

rem:  Agree 100%! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

DON:  The hardest thing was sticking with it when rewrites seemed to take over my life. I’ve said in the past that my manuscripts have gone through fifteen to twenty full edits before a publisher gets to see them. There are times you want to say, “That’s good enough.” But you can never settle. It has to be the best you can do, because you can never resubmit a work to be reconsidered. Once that door is closed, it’s closed.

rem:  Twenty years ago (I was so clueless) I said my story would be published and in its 10th edition and I’d still find something to tweak or edit! LOL What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

DON:  1. Stick with it. That sounds cliché, but it is true. Don’t give up on your work. rem: AMEN! 2. Have others who will be truthful read and critique your manuscript. Don’t ask a friend or relative. They may not tell you how much work is needed. 3. Make sure it’s the best you can do before showing it to an agent or publisher. Polish it. Go over it again. Hire a personal editor (I still do that) and go over it again. Remember, fifteen or twenty times. And turn it in with a well-done proposal (no matter if it’s to an agent or publisher). I strongly recommend Michael Hyatt’s book on writing proposals for fiction and non-fiction.


Do not give up. It bears repeating that. Do not give up.

Don’t trust a friend to tell you the truth. Get professional help.

Never try to represent yourself to a publisher. You need an agent.


rem:  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

DON:  The current work deals with organized crime, human trafficking, and political espionage. It takes place in Chicago and parts of the Middle East. I’m not allowed to say more at this point, other than it is finished and I’m very excited about it.

rem:  Can’t wait to get my hands on it! What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

DON:  My favorite part of the book is man overcoming impossible odds, and the transformation that takes place when he puts others first. We have all heard that nothing is impossible with God. I believe that’s true.

rem:  Gotta love a good transformation story. Tell us why you wrote this book.

DON:  The book setting is in the location where I have worked extensively. The area is real. The people are real. The villages and chiefs are real. And the enemies and obstacles are very real. I wanted to capture the plight of a people who cannot fend for themselves, and the selfless drive of a man who would not let them down.

rem:  Please give us the first page of the book.


            Twelve men lay motionless on their beds in the makeshift barrack. Charles Manning stood in the doorway in disbelief as the stench closed his nostrils. But it wasn’t death he smelled. It was the chemicals and vomit. He turned in disgust to leave the room, but Quinn’s massive frame blocked his exit.

“You didn’t come to Africa to leave so quickly. So tell me, Doctor . . . how many of these men do you think are still alive?” Quinn gripped Manning’s shoulders with his enormous hands and spun him to face the test subjects as they lay before him. “How many?”

Quinn’s calm voice forced a chill down Manning’s spine as nausea urged him to close his eyes and swallow hard. He rubbed his sweaty palms against his slacks as beads of perspiration dripped from his brow.

“See what you’ve done, Doctor? This, after only fifteen hours of exposure.” Quinn squeezed harder on Manning’s shoulders, radiating pain across his back and chest. Manning imagined Quinn could crush him with his grip alone. “Tell me how your work is coming now. Is your experiment a success?” He pushed Manning into the room with such force he fell to the dirt floor.

From there he saw puddles beside each bed and forced himself to stand when one of the men moved. Manning hurried to his side and reached for his pulse. It was faint.

“He’s alive, Quinn! This man’s alive.”

Quinn walked to the bed unhurried, as if he didn’t care, and looked at the man. “What are you feeling—right now?”

Instead of answering, the man turned to Dr. Manning. “Help me.”


rem:  Wow! That’s jam packed—and a great hook—I’ll turn that page for sure! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

DON:  A single person with God can make a difference that can change not only the lives of others, but of him or herself forever.

rem:  Where can we find you online?

DON:  Amazon is the best way to buy the book. It comes in audiobook, Kindle, and paperback.


rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

DON:  Remember that if writing is not your passion, it’s not for you. But if writing is your passion, no one can make you give up. Only you can do that.

rem:  Very true! Don, thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!










“Don Brobst is dedicated to fighting the indecency’s of the poor and needy children of Africa, the refugees of tyranny, and the victims of human trafficking throughout the world. When not writing, his life is spent on the front lines, fighting the battles, waging the war, refusing to turn his back on that which is most important.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Manly Man Interview Blitz, Don Brobst, The Ghost of Africa, Thirteen Months

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